Introduction Although two billion people now have access to clean water, many hospitals in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) do not. Lack of water availability at hospitals hinders safe surgical care. We aimed to review the surgical capacity literature and document the availability of water at health facilities and develop a predictive model of water availability at health facilities globally to inform targeted capacity improvements. Methods Using Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines, a systematic search for surgical capacity assessments in LMICs in MEDLINE, PubMed, and World Health Organization Global Health Library was performed. Data regarding water availability were extracted. Data from these assessments and national indicator data from the World Bank (e.g., gross domestic product, total health expenditure, and percent of population with improved access to water) were used to create a predictive model for water availability in LMICs globally. Results Of the 72 records identified, 19 reported water availability representing 430 hospitals. A total of 66% of hospitals assessed had water availability (283 of 430 hospitals). Using these data, estimated percent of water availability in LMICs more broadly ranged from under 20% (Liberia) to over 90% (Bangladesh, Ghana). Conclusions Less than two-thirds of hospitals providing surgical care in 19 LMICs had a reliable water source. Governments and nongovernmental organizations should increase efforts to improve water infrastructure at hospitals, which might aid in the provision of safe essential surgical care. Future research is needed to measure the effect of water availability on surgical care and patient outcomes.
- Essential surgery
- Low- and middle-income countries
- Surgical capacity
- Water availability
ASJC Scopus subject areas